That's not exactly breaking news, of course, but the Cowboys' free agent signee from the Jacksonville Jaguars is adamant about the fact that he is not a clone of the former Dallas safety, who started his career as one of the team's most popular stars and ended it as a scapegoat for the deficiencies in the pass defense.
"Speed and the ability to cover, and still bringing a lot of physical (play) to the run game — I played a lot of strong safety in Jacksonville," Sensabaugh said when asked about the strengths of his game. "I feel I can pretty much do all that."
But he was quick to sidestep comparisons to the five-time Pro Bowler he is replacing in the Dallas secondary.
"Speaking of last year, I'm not really sure how that went last year," Sensabaugh said. "I'm not really here to answer questions about Roy. Roy was a great safety. I'm just here to play, and make my own name."
When Sensabaugh entered free agency, he had several offers to consider, but said one of the main reasons he chose to accept the Cowboys' offer was the chance to rejoin two coaches with whom he had worked in Jacksonville: Dallas assistants Dave Campo and Joe DeCamillas.
"He had that same enthusiasm in Jacksonville," Sensabaugh said of Campo. "He's a great coach to play for — he's always positive, always trying to (help) you be the best you can be. He's a great person to play for, a great coach.
"I like Campo, and DeCamillis is a great special teams coach — he had us playing really well out there in Jacksonville. I think they said that's one of the weaker points here last year, the special teams play, and Coach D brings a lot to the special teams."
But before he feels totally comfortable with his new team, Sensabaugh must make the adjustment to his new scheme — in Jacksonville, the secondary played behind a 4-3 front, while Dallas employs the 3-4 as its base alignment — and the terminology that goes along with it. The adjustment will take time, he said, but doesn't compare to the learning curve he faced when the Jaguars chose him out of North Carolina in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
"It's a challenge — it's always a challenge, no matter where you're playing or what you're doing," he said. "It's easier, as opposed to being a rookie, because football is standard, no matter where you're playing. You just have to get the terminology. Everybody runs pretty much the same defenses. It's just a different front — 3-4, 4-3, that's just a different front — but the back side of the defense is pretty much standard, league-wide."
But try as he might to shy away from the comparisons to Williams, the fact is that the Cowboys signed him in large part because they wanted a strong safety who offered what Williams did not — the ability to cover receivers downfield. In Jacksonville, Sensabaugh was so good in coverage that coaches even played him some at cornerback, where he lined up against some of the NFL's elite receivers.
"I played against a lot of top receivers," Sensabaugh said. "Against Pittsburgh, my assignment was pretty much Hines Ward, so I had to do that for the greater portion of the game. I'm used to doing it. My first couple years in Jacksonville, they kind of tried me at corner — I played every position in the secondary, but I've always tried to cover receivers."
He added, however, that his ability to cover does not mean the secondary should take a step back against the run.
"Nah — no dropoff," he said. "I was a run support guy in Jacksonville. I played A gaps, (took) on lead blockers … I had surgery on two shoulders — we did a lot of hitting over there. This scheme is a lot different, but it's a lot easier for us to put in the run (defense).
"My job is to do all of those things. I'm here to execute my assignments, make as many plays as possible and try to win a championship."
Making His Own Name
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